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Cowboys news: Zack Martin cashes in; highlights from day two of minicamp

It was day two of minicamp, but the biggest news was off the field.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
That guy wearing 4 should be really glad 70 is going to be there for a while.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys Zack Martin got a record-setting deal - DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys
Just in case you haven't heard.

Three offensive linemen - Greg Robinson (2nd overall), Jake Matthews (6th overall), and Taylor Lewan (11th overall) were taken ahead of Martin, but the Cowboys’ new guard was the best of the bunch as he’s been an All Pro in each of his four seasons with the team. Martin’s played in all 64 games of his NFL career and done so at a high level. So much, in fact, that the Cowboys made him the highest-paid guard in the league with a seven-year, $93.4 million deal, with $40 million guaranteed (six years were added to his existing contract with a total of $84 million in compensation.)

Zack Martin's done deal: how it helps the Dallas Cowboys afford deals with Tank Lawrence and Earl Thomas - Mike Fisher, 247 Sports
The new and highly lucrative deal for Zack Martin also opens up space this year to take care of whatever else they might choose to do. Yes, including trading for Earl Thomas.

The Cowboys traditionally structure extensions in a way that often lower the existing contract year. Martin was already on the books for $9.3 million; a reduction of that wouldn't have been necessary, but it would be nice. Why not "necessary''? Because Dallas enters this deal already having $11 mil of cap room for 2018 ... and more than $60 million of cap room available in 2019. (Again, not yet accounting for Martin's deal.)

But now, after COO Stephen Jones told me today from inside The Star that the deal is official? The structure actually reduces Martin's cap impact by $3 million this season ... meaning Dallas now has $14 million in cap space. There is, in short, therefore almost no cap-related obstacle to Dallas doing whatever ensuing deals it wishes to do. And the "trickle-up effect,'' as I call it here in this Facebook Live Video, can be massive.

With contract nearing, Zack Martin poised to take bigger role - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys aren't just banking on what Zack Martin does as part of the offensive line. They are looking to him to become a leader in the locker room as well.

"He is a great technician. He is a really smart guy. He anticipates situations. And when he gets in bad situations he physically can recover because of the athlete that he is and the balance that he has," Garrett said. "And the other part of that is the mentality and how he fights. He is one of those guys we use as an example with our team a lot about just how he plays. He always finishes through the whistle. There is always a last shove. There is always a competitive fight right at the end of the down. I think when you put all that together -- his smarts, his technique, his athleticism, his ability to recover and then his mentality -- you get the kind of player we are talking about."

Two weeks after Jason Witten’s retirement, Martin showed up at The Star and found that his locker had been moved across the room to Witten’s spot. Garrett strategically places the team’s cornerstone pieces near the entrance and exits to the locker room.

“That was a cool little surprise, coming in here and seeing I got moved over here,” Martin said. “It’s definitely an honor.”

Tank’s A Lot: Lawrence is a handful for linemen, blessing for Cowboys - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
Martin isn't the only player the team is relying on to step up to a leadership role. DeMarcus Lawrence is as well, and he is already beginning to assert himself.

Lawrence has taken on a much more vocal role since he’s ascended into a league star. A small example. When teammate David Irving, who has been absent from OTAs while trying to get control of his life off the football field, returned to the locker room Tuesday, he seemed to feel pressured to provide answers to the media. Lawrence stopped him, telling him he could wait some time.

That might seem minor, but on a team where locker room leaders Dez Bryant and Jason Witten suddenly aren’t around anymore, that sort of thing looms large. Leaders are forged by situation and this year is the perfect opportunity for Lawrence to establish himself.

Player Profile: Geoff Swaim Embraces New Role in Revamped Tight End Corps - Kristi Scales, 5 Points Blue
Last year, Geoff Swaim was third on the TE depth chart. Now the departures of Jason Witten and James Hanna have made him the de facto leader of the tight end room.

Swaim is now taking advantage of this change as a way to not only increase his playing time, but also to positively influence the young tight ends that are behind him on the depth chart.

“I’ve got to make sure I’m on-it with my work ethic and my approach is the right approach,” he concedes. “I’m in the film room watching film. On the field, I’m prepared the right way. The way the tight ends are, we’re figuring things out together. There’s no need for me to be in there yelling at someone who is a year younger than me. hat doesn’t make sense. That wouldn’t be right. So, for us, it’s working together and, for me, being a leader by example.”

Swaim is entering the final year of the original 4-year rookie contract he signed with the Cowboys as the team’s 7th-round draft pick in 2015. If he has a productive season, he could set himself up for a lucrative offer in free agency following the coming 2018 season. That makes this a very important year for him.

Cowboys 2018 Minicamp: All the sights and sounds from the second day of minicamp - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Follow the link to check out the key nuggets of information from the second day of Cowboys mandatory minicamp.

Scout’s Eye: Defense Dominant Again On Day 2 - Bryan Broaddus,
The second day of Cowboys minicamp has wrapped, and Bryan Broaddus once again came away impressed with the Dallas defense. Here's one of the highlights he saw:

Big time awareness by Jourdan Lewis to come off his man in coverage and pick up an open Cedrick Wilson down the field. Wilson was able to get away from Duke Thomas and find some space between defenders. Cooper Rush read the route as well and delivered the ball in the direction of Wilson, but it was much too high. Lewis was in position behind Wilson and was able to come up with the interception.

5 takeaways from Day 2 of Cowboys' minicamp - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The defense is looking better and better, and Tavon Austin has a fan.

Strong D. As the offense struggled, the defense shined.

Safety-turned-cornerback Byron Jones made a couple noticeable plays early on. He dropped what should have been an interception on a poor throw by Prescott to Gallup, but rebounded the following play with a nice breakup when Prescott tried to go back to Gallup.

Duke Thomas, a cornerback and University of Texas product, made a nice pass breakup, and linebacker Jaylon Smith knocked out the ball from tight end Geoff Swaim on a would-be reception during seven-on-seven drills.

Finally, second-year cornerback Jourdan Lewis came down with an interception on an overthrown ball by Rush intended for rookie Cedrick Wilson.

Praise for Austin. It hasn't taken Tavon Austin long to make a positive impression on the Cowboys. He's become one of the leaders in the wide receivers room and his versatility has intrigued offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

Austin has the ability to line up in the backfield, outside or in the slot. He's the type of weapon the Cowboys haven't had in recent years.

As Prescott put it, "He's a steal."

WR Battle Taking Shape In Minicamp - Rob Phillips,
Lots of shuffling going on among the receivers.

At least seven different receivers have gotten first-team snaps in the offseason workouts open to the media: Beasley; Brown; newly-added veterans Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin; third-round pick Michael Gallup; and first-year wideout Lance Lenoir.

“It’s a pretty unique competition because there’s really nobody established,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “Bease is pretty much the established guy because of playing that slot position - we all know that. But we’re moving him around more. So I think it’s going to show its hand pretty significant here when we get into Oxnard and into these games in preseason.”

Byron Jones showing he's a fit for Kris Richard's style - Todd Archer, ESPN
Along with other notes from the second day of minicamp, Archer notes that Byron Jones seems to be performing well now that he's back at cornerback.

In 7-on-7 drills, Jones worked in press coverage at the line on Allen Hurns and was able to reroute him enough. He stayed on Hurns’ inside hip down the field, putting him in perfect position to correctly knock down a Dak Prescott deep ball with his right arm.

“You’ve got five yards, we want to be physical,” Richard said. “We want to keep our hands clean after that and then again we can’t disappear once we get past five. So we do have the right to our position on the field so long as we maintain our leverage, maintain our position on the field so we’re not fouling. We can’t disappear.”

Cowboys Training Camp: Underrated Players Who Could Shine - Brian Martin, Inside the Star
While defensive end looks really loaded this year, the tackle position is less certain. But so far, a couple of players have shown up well.

The Dallas Cowboys are currently more deep along the defensive line then I can personally remember. They are completely stacked at defensive tackle and defensive end, which is going to make it a little difficult to stand out once these practices get a little more serious when the pads come on. But, I think Datone Jones and Jihad Ward can do just that.

Ward has already caught the eye of the coaching staff in organized team activities (OTA's) while he has been filling in for David Irving at the three-technique. His arrow was already trending upwards, but a lot of Cowboys fans don't really know who he is. All they know is that he is who the Cowboys acquired in the Ryan Switzer trade with the Oakland Raiders.

Datone Jones is another underrated DT who the Cowboys signed late in the 2017 season. He ended up playing in the final four games and proved more than capable of being a disruptive force at the one-technique. It is a position the Cowboys could use an upgrade and Jones could be that player despite being a little undersized.

Sanjay Lal Keeps Cowboys' Receivers Working on Route-Running - Mauricio Rodriguez, Inside the Star
It does look like the addition of Sanjay Lal to the coaching staff could pay some real dividends.

After an offseason in which Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson were brought in to build a new-look offense to make the most out of Dak's strengths, these comments about Sanjay Lal helping the Cowboys improve their route-running are just what we wanted to hear.

"I was a little passive last year waiting to see what, I got so many different looks I was waiting to see what they were going to do before I started my route and I wasn't as good of a route runner because of it. Just firing off the ball and playing fast is what I'm focusing on." -Cole Beasley on SportsDay's article.

Dallas Cowboys: Is Jason Garrett seeing similarities between current Cowboys and legendary Dallas teams of the 1990s? - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Head coach Jason Garrett was asked to compare his current roster to the dynasty teams of the 1990s. His answer was pure Garrett-speak.

"I think that's an unfair comparison," Garrett said. "I'm not really a big comparison guy. If you look at those teams, you've got first-ballot Hall of Famers on those teams. Really some rare, rare football players. It was a young team, but really some special, special players.

"I was really fortunate to be a part of those teams. The way those teams went about it was really special too. They came to work every day. They had fun playing football but they worked at it.

"To me, that's what we're trying to instill in our team. Let's get here early, let's stay late, let's work hard at it, let's have some fun playing football together. I think those are some of the takeaways from those teams in the early '90s."

Suspended Cowboys DE Randy Gregory's fate in hands of Roger Goodell - Clarence Hill, Jr, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
While he's waiting to find out his fate at the hands of the commissioner, Randy Gregory is taking steps to be as ready as he can if he does get reinstated.

After meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday, sources have confirmed that suspended Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory plans to work out with former Oakland Raiders defensive end Greg Townsend in hopes of being ready for training camp, if he is reinstated.

There is no guarantee that Gregory will be reinstated.

He has not played football since 2016 after being suspended indefinitely by Goodell for repeated violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Lawsuit alleges Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders paid less than mascot - AP, via ESPN
The Cowboys are the latest to be hit with complaints from a former cheerleader, although fortunately there are no allegations of inappropriate conduct as has plagued other teams. However, the fact they were paid less than Rowdy the mascot certainly seems a bad idea.

Erica Wilkins, who worked for the Cowboys from 2014 to 2017, is seeking "unpaid overtime wages, minimum wages, and all other available damages," citing the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to court documents filed Tuesday. The lawsuit said female cheerleaders were paid at a rate less than "Rowdy," the mascot.

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